List of The Worst to Best Mattress Types For Back Pain – The Bedding Planet

List of The Worst to Best Mattress Types For Back Pain


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Back pain is one of the most common conditions in the United States, with over 65 million Americans suffering from chronic back pain.

This accounts for around 8% of the entire adult population. If you have been experiencing chronic back pain, it’s natural to look for the best mattress, and which one to avoid, just to make sure you are not only having a good night’s sleep but helping your back recover.

So, which is the best mattress type for back pain and which type should you avoid?

The best mattress type for people with back pain is the pocket spring mattress. This mattress offer stability, and with the correct firmness level it will ensure that your back is well supported throughout the night. The worst mattress type for people with back pain is the memory foam/coils hybrid mattress. This type of mattress is too firm and will likely cause you more pain.

Read on to learn more about the differnet mattress types available and how good they are at handling back pain issues.

List of The Worst to Best Mattress Types For Back Pain1

What Makes a Mattress Good or Bad For Your Back?

In the simplest form, always look for a medium-firm mattress as it’s the best option for back pain. In addition, it provides the best support for your spine, in most sleeping positions.

Conversely, an extra firm or soft mattress is the worst for back pain. This is because a soft mattress has minimal support for the spine, while an extra firm mattress doesn’t allow the spine’s natural curvature.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the worst and best mattress types to sleep on if you have back pain issues. This list is in chronological order, starting from the worst to the best.

The Worst to Best Mattress Types For Back Pain

What follows will be a list of the worst to best types of mattresses for people who experience back pain.

I want to be clear that I will only cover each of the mattress types in general. Truth is that many of these mattress types do come with different firmness levels, meaning the worst type for back pain can still be a decent option if you can find the correct firmness level for your body weight and sleeping position.

But in general, this is a good list to consider if you have back pain issues, so let’s get to it.

1. Memory Foam and Coils Hybrid Mattresses

The memory foam and coils hybrid is one of the firmest hybrid mattresses available. It’s a combination of firmer foam and coil-on-coil constructions that offer a high firmness level.

The coil design includes individually wrapped springs above an interconnected base. This ensures there’s no sagging that provides the sinking effect. This means you feel like you’re floating on the mattress instead of sinking into it.

While this mattress is good for some individuals, you may want to avoid it if you’re prone to back pain. This is because it’s too rigid and doesn’t accommodate the spine’s natural curvature. A good mattress for back pain offers some level of sinkage to ensure your body structure fits perfectly ‘in’ the mattress.

2. Soft Foam Mattresses

This is another one you should cross off your mattress shopping list if you struggle with back pain. They contain the softest type and low-density foam.

They may seem comfortable and luxurious initially, but you will sink into the mattress with time. Therefore you’ll be uncomfortable, and the back will lack support creating a recipe for back pain.

3. Pillowtop Mattresses

Pillowtop mattresses include a stitched topper usually glued on the top of the mattress. This makes them lovely and comfortable as you test in the showrooms. However, while the top layer allows you to sink in, the mattress is one-sided, and you can’t turn them.

The real problem arises when they sag into a lumpy and uncomfortable mattress. Therefore, you have to sleep inside the mattress, meaning your back will curve extensively in whichever position you sleep in.

If you’re looking for short-time luxury, this mattress is for you. However, if your aim is a mattress that supports your back, consider other options.

4. Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses are usually made of a combination of materials to enhance firmness such as the first one mentioned in our list. Another common hybrid type with a high level of firmness includes the “innerspring luxury-firm” mattress. This is a hybrid that contains three layers of high-density foam and individually wrapped coils.

This provides extra firmness, making it impossible for your body to sink into. Therefore the body remains rigid instead of conforming to its natural shape. This poses a threat to your back and neck, and you may enhance problems such as lower back pain and neck stiffness.

5. Medium Foam Mattresses

Foam is one of the most commonly used materials for mattresses. The medium density foam provides medium firmness that allows some level of sinkage. This is important in relieving pressure from the back, neck, and knees.

In addition, the mattress allows the body to sink steadily into the mattress regardless of the sleep position. Although it doesn’t relieve pressure points like memory foam, the chances of worsening or developing back pain are minimal.

One of the best foam mattresses is the plank by Brooklyn bedding. This mattress offers good support for the lumbar region. However, the cushioning is limited and may feel hard for lightweight individuals. N

You can read more about this mattress here: Brooklyn Bedding Plank Mattress.

6. Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses consist of individual springs that can be created with various firmness levels. Innerspring mattresses often come with a regular foam top that often provides great support for your back. One drawback is that regular foam lacks the melting feel of memory foam.

The springs consist of wrapped coils that provide support for the spine. Some designs apply zoned support to allow pushback in areas with increasing pressure.

The Saatva classic mattress is one of the best innerspring mattresses on the market. It has five zoned support areas for improved support to pressure points, including the shoulders and the lumbar region.

Additionally, it has one inch of polyfoam below the coils to enhance the structure and make it durable. The best thing is, this mattress comes in three different firmness levels; plush soft, luxury firm, and firm. Luxury firm will be the best option for most people with back pain problems.

You can learn more about the Saatva classic mattress here.

7. Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam is one of the best materials used for mattresses. As you lay on it, it conforms around the body as it responds to heat and pressure. When the pressure is removed, it bounces back to its original shape.

Most people prefer memory foam mattresses due to the pleasure of sinking into the bed. Now, if you’re looking for a mattress that is both soft and supportive i.e. perfect for back pain, a medium-density memory foam is the best option. According to the national sleep foundation research, memory foam is great for people with back pain. It aligns with the spine’s natural curvature and relieves aching joints.

The Loom and Leaf mattress from Saatva is one of the best memory foam mattresses currently available. The “relaxed firm” option is perfect for those with back pain problems as it provides great support for the spine. Unlike the firm mattresses where you feel like you’re sleeping on a rock, this one has a high comfort level.

To counter the heat that comes with memory foam, its center has a zone gel pad for temperature regulation and extra support to the spine. So, if you want to say goodbye to back pain, Loom and Leaf is the way to go.

You can learn more about this mattress at Saatva’s shop here.

8. Latex Mattresses

Latex Mattresses came into existence in the 1930s. Many people couldn’t afford these types due to high prices associated with a high cost of production and materials. Only the rich could afford the comfort offered by latex.

With the advancement in technology, the cost of production has reduced, and you can easily afford a latex mattress. In addition to comfort like memory foam, latex is eco-friendly.

They have been classified as the best solutions for lower back pain. It provides great support to the spine and helps relieve pressure points, improving your sleep quality.  

Zenhaven by Saatva is one of the best latex mattresses available. It’s a great choice, especially when you’re unsure if a harder mattress will work for you.

It’s built with a combination of four layers of Talalay latex with wool and cotton. This gives a consistent and durable material that’s hypoallergenic. The key feature of this brand is the Talalay design that has five zones for maximum support for the shoulder and torso areas.

Its uniqueness lies in the luxurious feel producing a buoyant sensation as you lay on it. Additionally, it offers solid support to the spine and quick responsiveness in each layer, eliminating any chance of back pain.

You can learn more about this incredible mattress at Saatva’s shop here.

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9. Air Mattresses  

First of all I want to be clear about one thing. I’m not talking about those air mattresses that you have in your basement that your guests fill up when they come by for a sleep over. No, those are NOT good for back pain problems.

The air mattresses I’m talking about here are those that have an adjustable air mattress near the bottom layer with multiple layers on top of it. These top layers could be memory foam or latex, crafted to provide the best support possible.

The biggest benefit of these mattresses is that you can easily determine the level of firmness by adjusting the amount of air in the air mattress layer with a remote control and change it according to your preferences. Being able to do this is perfect for back pain problems.

Afterall, most people have different back ache problems that triggers for various reasons. So, being able to directly and actively change the firmness level of your bed is a big plus.

Saatva Solaire mattress is an adjustable air mattress with layered memory foam to provide comfort and additional side support. It comes with five layers and a quilted surface to support the pressure points.

The dual air chambers have individual controls allowing you and your bedmate to adjust to your level of firmness. Also, It has latex layers with five zones to support the lumbar region making it ideal for people with lower back pain.

Learn more about this mattress at the Saatva shop here.

10. Pocket Spring Mattresses

Pocket spring mattresses are some of the best types of mattresses for back pain. They offer comfort, support, and durability. Their support system includes springs topped up with various layers of upholstery.

The springs are separate house springs wrapped with a material such as polyester. Each spring reacts independently, offering selective support, especially on the pressure points. Unlike other innersprings, pocket springs reduce movement, especially with co-sleepers.

In addition, you can choose a variety of spring tension depending on their strength. Therefore it’s possible to have springs designed specifically for your body weight. For co-sleepers with different weights, it’s possible to have two sets of spring tension for each bodyweight. Therefore both of you can have the support you deserve.

The springs allow the mattress to contour around the body without much sinking taking the spine’s shape. It offers unparalleled support irrespective of your sleeping position. This makes a great option to avoid lower back pain.

The Emma Premium Mattress is a great pocket spring/memory foam hybrid mattress that caters to people with back pain problems. This mattress is crafted to provide ergonomic support for your entire body no matter your sleeping position.

In addition, the mattress has a top layer of something they call “Airgocell foam” which is a special kind of patented memory foam that will allow you to sleep cool and dry on the mattress.

If you have back pain problems, don’t miss out on this mattress! You can learn more about it over at the Emma store here.

How to Know if Your Mattress is Causing You Back Pain?

There are many causes of back pain, and sometimes it’s difficult to determine the exact cause. However, if you exhibit any of the following signs, your mattress could be the culprit.

  • Your back pain starts immediately after you wake up. If your back pain starts immediately after waking up, it could mean your mattress is the cause. Usually, the pain goes away after some exercises.
  • If you are always tired- sometimes you experience unexplained fatigue, especially in the morning.
  • You find it difficult to fall asleep- if you keep tossing and turning without a good reason, your mattress could be the problem.
  • You have difficulties getting out of bed- sometimes, you wake up with a stiff back making it difficult to get out of bed. 
  • If your mattress is too hard, your spine doesn’t maintain its natural shape when you sleep on an extra firm mattress. This can lead to lower back pain.
  • If your mattress is too soft, it lacks the support required causing the spine to curve extensively, leading to back problems.
  • If your mattress is old and worn out-, an old and worn out mattress will definitely cause you back pain. So ensure you change your mattress at least every eight years.

Is It Normal for a New Mattress to Hurt Your Back?

A new mattress has a higher level of firmness, therefore it’s likely to cause back pain initially. However, if you’ve picked the correct mattress type (as explained above) that’s sutiable for back pain, it should become softer overtime as you break in the mattress and as your body adjusts to it.

Final Thoughts

A bad mattress can be your worst nightmare. It can ruin your life by causing you chronic back pain.

You can avoid such problems by choosing the best mattress to support your back. While various types offer comfort and luxury, prioritize one that offers proper spinal alignment.

Medium-firm mattresses allow you to slightly sink in while relieving pain from pressure points. This helps you avoid a rigid or curvy position that can cause back problems. Whichever type you choose, ensure it has a medium level of firmness. This means it’s neither too firm nor too soft.

However, this is dependent on your weight because heavier people require a firmer mattress while lighter people require a softer mattress. Also, back and stomach sleepers require a firm mattress, while side sleepers should go for a softer one.

Lastly, I want to mention that back pain can be caused by other things than only your mattress. Your pillow and your evening routine are a few things to consider.

If you want some good sleeping tips that can help you sleep better even if you have pain issues, I found this post over at justaveragejen.com very helpful.

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Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas and I'm the author and content operator at The Bedding Planet. I've always had a big interest in bedding and more specifically sleep. If I find something that makes me sleep better, whether that's a lifestyle change or a better bedding environment, I'm ready to share it with the world!

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